KIF Football: Turn Out The Lights

Day games will return in 2011. David Simon photos

The end to the NFL lockout came not a moment too soon for me and my football-loving brethren. Thankfully, the owners and players let cooler heads prevail, setting their collective-bargaining differences aside for the wellbeing of us, the fans.

OK, I’m not that naive.

There were billions at stake, so of course an agreement was inevitable.

While the same dollars aren’t in play when it comes to Kaua’i Interscholastic Federation football, the 2011 KIF schedule was released recently. Keeping a schedule similar to last season, games will be played Saturdays, most kicking off in the afternoon.

That move away from the “Friday night lights” tradition cost KIF $6,500 in 2010 revenue, according to a conference estimate. Luckily, the difference was made up thanks to a donation in June.

The change was not a popular one for many Kaua’i fans, as was evidenced by a number of creative Tshirts on fans in the stands. Altering a revered, storied tradition to maybe save a few birds was a tough sell. There’s something special for spectators about those twilight hours, seeing both teams warm up in the day’s waning moments and then clashing under illumination.

Saturdays have typically been for keiki leagues and youth activities. Now some parents have to split up the family to head to different parts of the island. That was a big part of the revenue decrease last year, which then created a domino effect for the rest of the league.

Lights out Sept. 17

Those are real problems that will exist again when we kick off in just a few weeks. But the underlying message, I think, is a worthwhile and noble one. It states that changing the way we think, changing the way we approach problems is sometimes necessary to make improvements to our world. Rather than poking holes in the solution the county and state have come up with, recognizing that a sacrifice for what is considered by some to be the greater good can instead be appreciated and respected.

We don’t know what the long-term impact will be on the shearwater and petrel populations just by eliminating two months’ worth of Friday night stadium lights, but it’s not the worst lesson for the island’s youths. Going the extra mile is sometimes painful, but also can be worthwhile.

With that said, there is a lot to be excited about once the whistle blows. Eight-time defending champion Kaua’i Red Raiders will have a new head coach in Corey Aguano, and a new quarterback after the graduation of HHSAA Hall of Honor inductee Shea Shimabukuro.

The Waimea Menehune head into their third season with the same coaching staff, and also will have lots of continuity with returning starters at all offensive skill positions, including standout running back Alika Emayo. The team showed off some explosion with 34 points in its spring game.

The Kapa’a Warriors were knocking on the door for the 2010 league title, coming up just short after a last-second loss to the Red Raiders. They will return a loaded defense that shut down offenses in the trenches, while working with a young offensive unit.

The preseason opens Aug. 19 with a simultaneous doubleheader, as Waimea hosts Honokaa (7 p.m., Hanapepe Stadium) and Kapaa takes on Kamehameha-Maui (7 p.m., Vidinha Stadium). Kaua’i will then host Kekaulike Aug. 20 (7 p.m., Vidinha Stadium).

Games will move to their afternoon kickoff times Sept. 17.